From July 1, 2016, the Australian government is introducing changes to the way that people with diabetes access subsidised diabetes consumables through the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS). This includes test strips, insulin pump consumables, needles and syringes.
People with diabetes will no longer be able to order their consumables through Diabetes Australia, or state and territory outlets. There will be a number of new NDSS access points created in response to this change, promising greater access and convenience for consumers.
I’ve always accessed consumables through my local pharmacy, which is an NDSS outlet. However, I expect that there are many people who would prefer the convenience of ordering in bulk. Prior to these changes, people were able to order a 6 month supply of consumables from Diabetes Australia and have them delivered to their door.
I know personally how difficult it is to purchase in bulk, or to “stock up” at a pharmacy without having uncomfortable questions asked about why I need so much. I try to get around this by making more frequent visits to the pharmacy and purchasing in smaller amounts, but doing so does take away the element of convenience.
Another big change will see people with type 2 diabetes who are not using insulin restricted to a 6 month supply of test strips. Further access to strips will be in the hands of a healthcare professional. To quote the Department of Health, “people with type 2 diabetes not using insulin do not need to constantly monitor their blood glucose levels with strips.”
The decision to use glucose monitoring to manage any kind of diabetes is an individual one. This decision should be in the hands of the patient, and not the healthcare professional. By taking away this element, I don’t believe that we are empowering people to manage their diabetes. Although I’m a type 1, I’m a high user of test strips and I couldn’t imagine my life without them. I wrote about this change in more detail here.
6 month test strip limits will also apply to Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people with type 2 diabetes, who access their strips free through Aboriginal Health Services.
These changes are obviously designed to make the delivery side of the NDSS more efficient and cost effective. The government promises that funds saved will be reinvested into support and education programs run by Diabetes Australia, and state and territory organisations.
Most importantly, though, in my opinion, is that I won’t be forced to pay any more for my diabetes supplies as a result of these changes.
You can read more about the upcoming changes to the NDSS here.
I think a good review of the “government health reforms” might be wise. DA already get millions in funding for education, sorry Frank in my view this is an appalling and disgraceful show of not only DA lack of advocacy for the diabetes community but an example of how government policy makers whom you might know did not even consult NDSS on this matter prior to making the policy changes, are now making clinical decisions based on financial cost cutting rather then sound clinical evidence for the long term health of persons with diabetes.
The new health reform package, throws us in with every other chronic illness, when you remove diagnostic streaming from health you do save bundles, what you lose is a body of dedicated health expertise.
Frank, I certainly hope it will allow better flexibility and cost control. I also hope those savings are reinvested in Diabetes education and care.
I referred this blog to the TUDiabetes blog page for the week of April 12, 2016
Type 2 diabetes BGM Strip Restrictions – CDE Survival Guide (Part 2) – Edhealth Australia
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In the Line of Questioning - Type 1 Writes - Diabetes Blog
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Hi Frank. I have just found your blog, it’s very interesting and helpful. I am currently living in South Africa with a insulin pump but we are immigrating to Australia next year. I just want to know if you could give me some advice regarding which private medical aid/insurance you would recommend? It sounds like I should register with the NDDS and Medicare when I arrive as well, (we have been granted a permanent residency visa) but how long does do they take to process your applications etc?